What’s going on with state exchanges?

One of the key tenets of the health care law, the implementation of state-based online health insurance marketplaces, is rapidly underway – in some states. California was the first state last week to announce its rates for individual health insurance premiums on its exchange, Covered California. According to Covered California’s press release, 13 health plans reflecting a mix of large non-profit and commercial plans, along with Medicaid and regional plans, will be participating in the exchange. While premiums in California are expected to be lower than federal actuaries had predicted, this may not be indicative of situations in other regions, according to some health policy experts. What’s more, while the lower rates will be enticing to many consumers, they come with a trade-off: limited networks with fewer provider and hospital choices.

Though other states have yet to announce their rate filings, several have reported which health plans will be participating in their marketplaces. Minnesota’s new exchange will include the state’s four largest insurers: UCare, HealthPartners, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota and Medica. The insurers are currently seeking state approval to compete on the exchange, MNsure, when it opens October 1. Following suit, Washington, D.C., recently announced that Aetna, CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealth have all applied to sell their policies through the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange. Currently, levels of participation nationwide are running the gamut: In Maryland, a litany of plans have submitted proposals to participate in the exchange, while New Hampshire’s marketplace has received only one application.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has developed an interactive, comprehensive infographic (which is frequently updated) showing state decisions for creating the online exchanges. The map provides some brief background information on how the marketplaces will work and state options for implementing the exchanges. For anyone wanting to know more about national progress on state exchanges, this is a great resource.

Photo courtesy of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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